Pour yourself a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and let me ruminate for a little bit on our first DNF. It was the 30-hour Atomic race, our first attempt at a race lasting more than 8 hours. It was night and we were trying to locate a control in a reentrant. Not being very good at navigation, and not wanting to lose our reference point, I had Ana stand at the top of a knoll with a flashlight while I searched the 30 or so tiny reentrants that surrounded us. Knowing that I could just look back at any time and see Ana’s light, I wasn’t paying any attention to my compass. But, then it started to downpour and visibility became nil. I could no longer see Ana’s light and I had no idea which direction to go to get back to her. In two seconds I went from knowing where I was to being lost and not being able to find my team. I yelled for Ana, but she couldn’t hear me over the rain.
Don’t believe me? Go try it sometime. The next time it rains, go in the forest and yell for all your worth. I like to do this anytime Ana tells me she wants to repaint the house. It’s crazy how therapeutic it is. It’s also amazing how no one can hear you. Your voice just doesn’t travel well in the woods, especially during a downpour.
It wasn’t until after the rain stopped that I could finally hear Ana yelling for me. Thank god she hadn’t moved from her spot or we would have really been in trouble. I finally spotted her flashlight and made my way to the top of the knoll, where she asked me if I had been crying. I told her of course not, it was just rain washing the mud off my face. It was a scary feeling indeed, and while I can share many more stories of us getting lost, no one has enough time to read them all.
So, why am I telling you this? It’s because I want you to think about one piece of lowly gear that a lot of people overlook, your whistle. It’s mandatory gear in every race I’ve ever been in. In the past I would have just gone to Walmart and picked up any old whistle in order to comply with the rules, or relied on the one that came with my backpack. But, those are crap and mandatory gear shouldn’t be crap.
Imagine your team is bombing a downhill at night and the last rider goes over a ledge. You may not even realize it at first. It’s happened with us on a training ride and it was three or four minutes before we even knew we lost a teammate. We’re not inconsiderate jerks, it’s just that it’s hard to look behind you when you’re going downhill, even as slow as we are. We know of other teams where someone has fallen off of a railroad truss and needed assistance.
There is no quicker way to bring help then by alerting your team, or other racers, with a super loud whistle. And the best whistle out there is made by ACME Whistles.
Now look, don’t get upset thinking that you just got sucked into reading a commercial for ACME Whistles. I’m only sharing this with you because I love our blog readers and I want you to be safe out there. Stuff happens when you’re in the wild, and it can get serious very quickly. Don’t peg your hopes on crap gear. Spend five bucks and get yourself and your team members a quality whistle.
We have the ACME Tornado 636 for our PFDs and the ACME T2000 for our backpacks. How loud are these thing? How about 117dB for the 636! What’s a dB? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that 117dB is louder than if you were standing 3 feet from your car horn and someone honked it at you…in other words LOUD! And that’s what you want. Loud, dependable, and Day-Glo green (because that’s the best color ever). Actually, they make lots of different colors, so get your favorite.
As a thank you for making it through another rambling post of mine, like the post on Facebook by midnight on 5/10/17 and we’ll choose four people to send a free whistle to. We’ll even cover the postage. How cool is that?